Rev. Dr. Ira DeSpain, university minister, Baker University, Baldwin City:
The short answer is yes! Faith can help students when they move to college. For those who have been part of a faith tradition, faith can help in several ways. I’ll mention two:
Faith can serve as a constant, or as an anchor, in the new and sometimes frightening world that is college life. Life seems to happen quickly in college. There is much adjusting to do, from roommate drama to academic demands and outside activities and employment. One’s faith can balance the accelerated pace of life. I recommend setting aside time each day for quiet (prayer, meditation, reading) to maintain spiritual centeredness. As little as five minutes a day is a good start.
The faith that you bring to college can be an excellent starting or continuing point of your own faith development. If you have been taught faith as a child, it provides an excellent beginning. Yet your faith can’t only be what you have been told. Eventually it must be YOURS to claim and live. Along with the many other adjustments to college (budgeting, time management, laundry and self-responsibility, for instance) people of faith need to begin to discern where they stand with the faith they have been taught. If you were raised in a faith, that is certainly a good foundation. Your adult faith will grow from that, but may be very different from your childhood faith.
Two final pieces of advice:
• If you are interested in developing your faith, make friends with people who are also interested in faith development. Be a support to each other and discuss faith issues with them.
• Expand your horizons by meeting and befriending people whose faith is different from your own. Learning about other faiths can help you understand your own faith better.
— Send email to Ira DeSpain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin Jenkins, lead pastor, Velocity Church, meets at Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.:
Moving away from home and getting started with life at college is as exciting as it is challenging.
There is no shortage of opportunities to experience everything from happiness to hopelessness.
It could be the opportunity to make new friends or the fact you find yourself missing your old ones.
Maybe you’ve found that classes are harder than you expected or maybe it’s the opportunity to really make an effort this year if your high school academics were, we’ll say, lackluster.
So does the Bible have anything to offer those of us in this situation? Absolutely. Trusting in God is helpful not just for students but for life in general.
The Bible says all of scripture is God’s word and that we are helped when we are taught by it (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It’s through faith in God’s word we find the things we need (2 Peter 1:3).
It’s easy to just think of the Bible as a physical book about spiritual things. But really it’s a spiritual book about physical things.
The Bible talks about things like how to handle money (handy for all you poor college students), how to have successful relationships, being disciplined, reaching your goals, how to be happy, honoring your parents, making right choices, dealing with insecurity and worry, knowing your purpose, overcoming loneliness, how to forgive, how to deal with anger, prayer (let’s face it — you know you do it before exams) and even subjects like sex, marriage and death.
The best way to grow in your relationship with God is in a community with others.
Find a church that you can be a part of that will show you how the Bible speaks to your everyday life.
— Send email to Justin Jenkins at email@example.com.